Saturday, January 27, 2007

demented rabbits and contented toddlers

Well, more bleeding and more cautery. This time, with the Eldest watching curiously. So, when the ENT asked me, worriedly, 'Are you okay?' The correct answer was a cheery, 'yup!' Ignoring, of course, the feeling like the inside of my nose was on fire.

The lidocaine, it seems, had not quite worked. Quite.

Again, with an eye towards snuggling platelets, the ENT shoved a bit of something up my nose. Placed somewhat differently than the first bit of platelet snuggling, this bit of whateveritis itches. I find myself twitching my nose, and looking a bit like a demented rabbit. Yay, me. I had dinner tonight with a superb listener, who not only let me rattle on for hours, but didn't laugh at my ridiculous nose-dance. A lady with a certain amount of aplomb, that one.

My Samantha-esque twitching gives me a slightly vague, distracted look that contrasts nicely with the Toddles' latest behavior patterns: from a vague, guess-what's-irking-the-child, we know have the Definitive Communicator. He is clear as to his wishes, tidies up after himself, and brooks no fluthering about by his parents. (This is the place where people remind me that the second one is easier. This is also the place where I laugh at them. What is this 'easy' to be -er of?)

Tonight, for example, he woke up and wailed at about 11.30pm. Mind you, he didn't even open his eyes - typically, he sits up and wails, eyes still closed, certain that the grownup of choice will appear. The Man went in and soothed him back to sleep - tried, anyway - but the Toddles shoved the soothing hand away and pointed, clearly, forcefully, down the hall, where I was working. The Man tried again, but again found the paternal hand shoved away as the Toddles began crawling off the bed to go and fetch me.

Accepting defeat, he called me. I went in to the room, lay down and nursed the wee tyrant. Once he was done nursing on one side, he tidily pulled my shirt down, patted me, and pointed. Other side, Mum. I popped him over, he nursed on the other side, and again covered me up when he was done. Tidy little soul, that one. Clear in his needs, focussed, but tidy when done.

I can live with that.

The Eldest had his interview at the school of choice, and looking him with an eye to what a stranger would see, I could see just how far he's regressed, post-bleed. He hid behind me, thumb so far into his mouth that it tickled his tonsils. When invited to go into the kindergarten classroom, he declined, but agreed to peek in through the door. (sound familiar? Yup.)

When asked questions, he declined to respond - insofar as I could see, while I was still in the room. Now, as my friend the rabbi says, is where I start to over-interpret. What did the Director of Admissions see? In his focus on the Lego, to the extent that he didn't respond to her, did she see a child avoiding social interaction? Or does she see a child with tremendous powers of concentration? At one point, she asked him to write his name. I couldn't stop myself - here was a child who can log the date and the names of the veins that are used for his infusions. I jumped in and told her so, and then worried that I seemed like I was bragging.

I was. But what did she see? Did she see the hiding child, or the external view? Can she sift through the anxious child behaviors to see him? I have to trust that she did. I hate having to do that. In fact, i'm thinking of ruthlessly using the medical pow-wow to do a little PR, a little spin...I just can't stop myself.

But still, how many kids can draw you a picture of a fibrin net? Or name the veins in their arm and hand? Or backseat poke? The kid likes to give advice to people doing the vein poke, it's hilarious. (I think you are to the left of the vein. Did you advance the needle? try wiggling it a bit. Maybe it's positional?) The kid's just that cool, and I think the Director of Admissions should know that. Hell, I think there should be billboards on the Mass Pike letting folks know that, but that might be one of those maternal bias things I keep hearing about.


Finally, I got to meet one of my favorite authors, Guy Gavriel Kay, tonight at the Vericon. I never go to fantasy/scifi conventions (or 'cons,' as they are apparently called), but magid wisely hauled me to this one. Magid found the listing for the talk, bought my badge, acquired the as-yet not released book by Kay, and managed to maneuver all three (badge, book and me) to Harvard campus. She even showed up Saturday afternoon, before the talk, to make sure I wasn't trying to hide in my burrow.

And I didn't. Kay talked about the role of fantasy, as he sees it, and it was clear that he's a bit of a crusader. Disturbed by the lack of awareness that we have of our own history, Kay uses history as a base for his fantasy. Through the lens of fantasy, historical moments are universalized, he points out, making them more accessible to we modern, era-centric types. And thereby more easily used as a tool to analyze the present.

This smacks strongly of an argument that I've made to my own students, when teaching medieval literature. I tell them to treat it like a kind of fantasy, to picture an era that's different from ours, different enough that we create our own fantasies trying to imagine it, because we can't possibly get it exactly right. Can you imagine believing that an old fingerbone in a cathedral could cure you? Or, if you were a cynic, knowing that the majority of people believed that? I can tell them that there was an amazing paucity of objects, by our modern standards, but they don't understand it, they merely accept the words as something to parrot back on essays and exams. Invite them to imagine a room without the easy clutter of a machine-made material culture, with one cup per person, and they start to get it. Imagination, and specifically fantasy is a wonderful tool to get a person to accept difference, to loosen up and look calmly outside of their network, or pattern of known definitions and understandings. And my vague invitation to my students, trying to shake up their faith in academic teachings, their ethnocentricity, pales in comparison to Kay's precise, detail-careful narrative.

Fun, above all, to actually meet the man! And I am looking forward to settling down with Ysabel, his latest book, and a good cup of tea. Until 3 a.m., of course...

The SIL has issued a challenge: can I come up with a good birthday cake for the Niece's party? Here's my first attempt, an adaptation of an adaptation. I just hope the Niece likes blueberries! (Note to self: test the recipe sans fruit)

A Girl's Gotta Have...Cake
serves 6-8 happy cake eaters

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
4 eggs or 4 Tb ground flaxseed (flaxmeal) + 1/2 c water, zapped in microwave and let cool. should be thick, plus 1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder (gluten free folks, check for corn!)
1 cup white rice flour
2/3 cup sour cream or 2/3 cup Tofutti cream cheese (contains corn) or 2/3 cup plain soy yogurt (some contain corn, be careful - currently, Silk yogurt seems not to trouble either of my boys). If you use the dairy free options, add 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
4 TB lemon juice (in a pinch, it's okay to mix lemon and orange juice)
zest of 1 lemon. Oranges work fine, too
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup blueberries (frozen are fine)

Blend margarine/butter and sugar. Add eggs/egg sub.s, and blend. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Whip with cake mixer for 2 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease or spray with cooking spray a 8 by 8 baking pan. Note: this recipe might also work with a bundt pan, I simply have bad luck with those - my cakes crumble when I try to remove them, proving that I am more cook than baker. Also, beware! This cake will rise, unlike lots of gluten free baked goods. It'll fall a bit, too, but make sure the pan can hold it while it rises.

Pour batter into prepared pan. bake 50-60 minutes. Middle will fall, don't worry about it. Test carefully with toothpick, baking times will vary depending on oven.

Options: these would probably work beautifully as muffins, with about a 20 minute bake time.


mother in israel said...

My little one still insists on nursing on both sides (or more) even in the middle of the night. None of my others ever did. Drives me crazy.

dykewife said...

i'm sure the admin encounters many children who react as your's did. children of that age don't always like being "on stage" and sometimes it's just time to be clingy. of course, its usually the least convenient or opportune time, but that's life.

mama o' the matrices said...

dw, I'm baking on it!

m.i.i, some kids are, alas, more thorough than others. But in the middle of the night? During his talk, G.G.Kay said that his goal is to have irate readers complain about being kept up to 3 a.m., because they needed to finish his book.

3 a.m. ain't nothing to the parents of small, stubbornly night-snacking children. Which makes it easier to finish his books, I suppose!

Auntie A said...

so, have you finished the book yet? (and btw, thanks oh so much for recommending that lovely Sharon Shinn. she is on my favourites list now.)

mama o' the matrices said...

Yup. Opened and finished it in one day - too good to stop! I kept sneaking off to read...

Not my favorite of his, but still a damned good read. And the tie-in from a previous book was unexpected. Nice.